March 23 - June 18, 2017
Organisers: Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, XL Projects
General sponsor: GC Stroyteks
The "Blue Soup" art group's retrospective exhibition spans the two decades during which the group has been active producing their video-art and computer-animation works. The show comprises all of the group's works to date, including their seminal "Way Out" (2005), first shown at the inaugural Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art; "Echelon" (2006), first shown at the Modern City Foundation; and "Lake" (2007), "Defence" (2007), "Pulp" (2014) and "Cascade" (2016), all of which were first shown at the XL Gallery in Moscow. In 2007, their "Lake" video installation was awarded the Innovation Prize as the best work of visual art of the year, while "Cascade" was shortlisted for the other prestigious Russian contemporary art award, the Kandinsky Prize, in 2016.
The "Blue Soup" art group was formed in 1996 by three Moscow Architectural Institute graduates, Daniil Lebedev, Aleksey Dobrov and Valery Patkonen. In 2002, the trio were joined by Aleksandr Lobanov before Patkonen left the group, in 2010. Trying to understand and describe the method and peculiarities of the phenomenon that is the "Blue Soup" art group is a daring challenge for any art critic. This is why the exhibition features not only the group's works but also explications, which are a key part of the show and, as such, are given their own special space. In other words, the exhibition lies at the intersection of two relatively hermetic components - the visual contents and various interpretations thereof, which means that art critics who contributed their explanations of the works on display - Valentin Diakonov, Elena Ishchenko, Karina Karaeva, Irina Kulik, and Evgenia Kikodze - are just as good participants of the exhibition as the artists they write about.
The "Blue Soup" art group's works are widely regarded as being difficult to interpret. And one cannot but agree with this stereotype. Any of their works is a thoroughly constructed visual piece, both simple and multidimensional at one and the same time, pulling the viewer inside but giving them no chance whatsoever to touch and feel this pseudocomputer game, a quality most of the interpreters point out. The art group creates simulated reality that has nothing to do with the real-world photos or videos, and any of their computer-generated works can only be contemplated from the outside with no chance of stepping inside or reaching the "next level," which contradicts the very essence of a computer game but leaves room for discussions about the set of tools and method used by the artists.
The "Blue Soup" art group have used computer animation since its very inception. Even their early short videos have nothing to do with the reality as seen through the window but are rather studies looking to discern the hidden meanings and connotations of this reality. Showing off these hidden meanings can actually be considered as one of the art group's "ultimate tasks."
The phenomenon of the "Blue Soup" art group as well as their works comprehensively defy any precise wording, but since no exact definitions can be given art critics are entitled to give as many interpretations as they please, and this is what this exhibition is all about - we hope that simple but multidimensional videos and short but gripping texts will intersect at an imaginary junction and will help the visitors at least try to understand the group's oeuvre, even if a full understanding may never be reached.